Winning the Australian Youth Art Prize in 1949 was the deciding factor in Lance Stirling pursuing art and design rather than music as a career, although neither promised great security in the relatively unsophisticated late 1940s.
Following a design course at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, together with painting at the National Gallery, he gained invaluable experience in art studio, process engraving, newspaper and magazine work. He then began the inevitable advertising agency round at George Patterson (Melbourne) where he first discovered the infinite possibilities of design in the Swiss publication Graphis. It was an important influence in radically extending the horizons of Lance's creative imagination. Ultimately Graphis published several of his designs and included his work in the international Who's Who in Graphic Art.
Lance's work was included in the select group of designers chosen to exhibit at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. His career alternated between freelancing and the Art Direction of several advertising agencies, with a two year interruption to assist in the establishment of Pilgrim International in Sydney. He has had commissions from many major Australian companies, designed several Australian stamps and has won numerous medals for design. Part of his later career involved a change of direction as Lecturer in Graphic Design in NSW and Victoria.
Amongst fellow designers and the industry generally Lance's reputation has been one where his emphasis was on integrity in all phases of his work, continually challenging the bounds of possibility in design solutions.
Tribute to Lance Stirling
by Max Robinson
Lance says the major influence on his work was membership of the esoteric clan of designers and illustrators known as 'The Society of the Ambulant Cheese'.
In Melbourne, during the 1950s. they congregated in each others' homes and studios, talked art and design, ate
and drank, and generally behaved in an excitable fashion.
The Society included Owen Foulkes Eric Maguire, Joe Greenberg, Ron Thompson, Arthur Leydin, Patrick Russell and Dick Beck, with the occasional ring-in like me. A veritable mini AGDA.
Whatever his influences, Lance Stirling achieved an enviable standard of work. Always intelligent, always experimental, looking as fresh today as it did then. A vision well ahead of its time and well-deserving of a place in the AGDA/Paperpoint Hall of Fame.
The news of the death of Saul Bass recently felt to me like the ripping apart of tectonic plates. It seemed to confirm that things had changed absolutely in our world of Graphic Design.
I can't think of a better reason to celebrate a man like Lance Stirling, who did the kind of work he did, the way he did it, in that time, in this place, supremely well.